Born in St. Jean de Luz, France, July 29th, 1928, Richard (Dick) Grosvenor came from an established Newport family. He was the youngest of six children and graduated from Groton School and Harvard University, ’51. He married Margot Sullivan, on October 19th, 1949 and later received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Salve Regina University, Newport in 2010. Much has been written about Grosvenor, but he will best be known as a family man, artist, teacher, creator, builder and dog lover. He was adored by the many people who knew him. He possessed a bright, inquisitive mind, a keen sense of humor, a rare generosity of spirit and a true humility. He embodied the best kind of artist: an artist who takes his art seriously but not himself.
Dick’s professional art career began as a sign painter in Newport, RI, after which he moved to Stonington, CT to work for Electric Boat Corp. In 1953 he returned to Newport and taught art and architecture for forty years at St. George’s School, where he also served as a dorm master and coached sports. At St. Georges, Dick is legendary for his imaginative, giant-scale architecture projects that were created from recycled materials (sticks and empty cereal cartons) and built by his students: a working Viking Ship, geodesic dome, Eiffel Tower, water wheel and a replica of the Rialto Bridge.
Grosvenor loved the creative process as much or even more that the finished product and possessed a great energy that he devoted to a broad range of interests: building his own catamarans, rowing shells, kayaks, planes, a studio and a house on a rock. His creations were given names…the boats were “Wild Thing,” “Heart Sing” and “Move Me,” based on the lyrics of one of his favorite songs in the 1960’s, his plane, “Buttercup.” His artwork can be found in public places, such as the Newport Post Office and Hospital, and many friends and collectors treasure his paintings in their homes. Dick won countless awards and regularly exhibited in galleries, art clubs and museums.
He served on the Vestry of Trinity Church and was an active member of the Board of Directors of the Redwood Library and the Newport Art Museum (president of the board for a term), where he co-founded the Museum’s “Wet Paint,” annual art event and provided the vision for the “Masque of the Blue Gardens” Gala and the “Buccaneer Ball.” Too young to serve in WWII, Dick helped with the surveillance and identification of airplanes from Saint George’s Chapel tower. Later, he served in the National Guard Reserve.
He was a member of the Newport Historical Society, Circle of Scholars, Providence Art Club, the Society of Colonial Wars, Newport Reading Room, Ida Lewis Yacht Club, Quindecim and the Clambake Club of Newport. He donated innumerable paintings to be auctioned for many Newport County charitable organizations and volunteered with Meals on Wheels.
In addition to his loving wife, he is survived by his four children and their spouses: Richard Curtis and Terry Taffinder Grosvenor of Newport, RI, John Kempthorne Grosvenor and Cheryl Hackett of Middletown, RI, James Brown Mason and Nina Barbaresi Grosvenor of Bronxville, NY, and Helene Goodman Sullivan Grosvenor and James Ben Asbel of Portland, Oregon; his grandchildren: Amanda Mason Grosvenor, Andrew DeWolf and Sarah Katherine Bowering Grosvenor, Sherwoode Taffinder Grosvenor, Nancy Langdon Grosvenor Walters and Darren Earl Walters, Sarah Scott Grosvenor Mosley and Steven G. Mosley, John William and Marisa Olsen Grosvenor, David Glacken Grosvenor, James Yuji Inaoka Grosvenor, Rachel Grosvenor Asbel and Joseph Burnett Asbel; his great grandchildren: Theodore Eugene Grosvenor and Marin Scott Grosvenor; Mary Ellen Grosvenor, mother of Sarah Scott, John William and David; step grandchildren: Meghan Galvin and Robert Galvin.
He is predeceased by his parents, William Grosvenor and Mary Burnett, and his siblings, Mary Hazard, Rosa Anne Touret, Caroline Collins, William Grosvenor, Jr. and Charles B. Grosvenor.
A private funeral and burial will be at St. Columba’s in Middletown. A Memorial Service is scheduled for St. George’s School Chapel, Middletown, RI, on Saturday, October 14th at 2:00 o’clock.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Richard’s name may be made to the Newport Art Museum, The Redwood Library, and The Newport Historical Society.
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